A Green Paper for an all-embracing European Union Maritime Policy due for unveiling this Wednesday will seek to improve the bloc’s economic development in this area in an integrated, sustainable and eco-friendly way. The European Commission has been working on the consultation project for more than a year.
Commission official Tiago Pitta Cunhan deals in fisheries and maritime affairs. He says: “There are great opportunities in this sector, notably in marine biotechnology, cruise ship building and the exploitation of port services and maritime transport.”
The sea provides jobs for millions of Europeans, and yet economic and ecological coordination has moved up the EU agenda relatively recently. Carrol Phua is with the global environmental conservation organization WWF. She says: “I think it will get worse actually. Because it has been pushed under the Lisbon agenda under improving competitiveness and growth, and if the environmental issues are not put as a priority, you can imagine what the environment is going to look like, especially the marine environment. You have large sectors in place such as shipping, fisheries, oil and gas – and these are big industries. Without very firm guidelines as to what environment should be protected, it is not going to be a success.”
For some time, though, Brussels has recognised the mounting pressures; it says that land-based human activities cause more than 80% of marine pollution. Its conclusion is: policies cannot continue to be created in isolation from one another.